WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Two Los Angeles police officers, charged of sexually assaulting several women, were sentenced to 25 years each.
- The pair, Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols, abused their power by preying on vulnerable women, luring them into their car and forcing them into sex acts
- The women claimed that the two officers warned of repercussions if they did not do what they’ve been told, prosecutors from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the two officers have been forcing sex acts from women for several years. They had encountered some of the women during past arrests while some worked as private informants for the police department.
“I’ve gained a lot of unnecessary hatred for law officers, and I’ve gained so much regret for not being able to fight back,” one of the victims testified. “I’ve lost the ability to trust and mostly I lost the privilege of being safe”.
The affidavit also says that the two detained women on multiple occasions and coerced them into sex acts in their car. Oftentimes, one of them would perform a sex act while the other one would watch. Both officers threatened victims with imprisonment or deportation if they disobey.
The two officers pleaded no contest to two counts each of forced rape and two other counts of sexual assault.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck accused Valenzuela and Nichols of “a violation of public trust” and described their behavior “horrific.”
“These two officers have disgraced themselves, they’ve disgraced this badge, they’ve disgraced their oath of office,” Beck told reporters.
To settle cases brought by three women who accused the two officers of sexual assault, the city of Los Angeles has paid out close to $1.8m. A fourth lawsuit is still pending.